Fri, September 20, 2013

Bradley Wiggins wins Britain's second Olympic gold

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

LONDON - Before the London Olympics began, the spectre of Bradley Wiggins was rather enormous. He became the first Brit to win the famed Tour de France. He had won six Olympic medals, even if he cared, really, about only three of them. He was a national hero.

And now, he’s more than all that. Way more.

He is THE story of the Olympic Games for the host country after winning the men’s individual time trial Wednesday, the first individual gold for Team GB at the 2012 Games and the second on a day in which the host country can collectively breath a sigh of relief.

The victory for the demonstrative and rather thin Wiggins — who tore his racer shirt off at the finish line a la Hulk Hogan — was his fourth career Olympic gold, his seventh medal overall, which makes him the most decorated Summer Olympian in the history of the U.K.

“I cannot put into words what this means,” said Wiggins. “I wouldn’t do it justice. It was really incredible. To win an Olympic gold in your home city. When you win in the velodrome there are three or four thousand people cheering. Here, around the streets of London the noise is just amazing. I don’t think anything will top that.”

Estimates were that more than 300,000 lined the streets near the picturesque Hampton Court Palace to watch a race that isn’t really a race. It’s athlete against himself. And no one on this day could find a way to beat Wiggins.

“This morning, I kept seeing all these reports on the telly,” he said. “It’s not so important that you have seven medals if they’re not the right colour. The main number is four. It was important that it was number four. Just to be mentioned in the same breathe as (Sir Steve) Redgrave is an absolute honour.”

And in his post-race press conference and on the podium, Wiggins just couldn’t stop smiling and hamming it up. “I was trying to savour it,” he said. “I have no memories of my other Olympics. I was either too young or it was over too quick. There is not much better than this setting, with that castle. It’s so British, isn’t it? The sun out and it was just fantastic.”

It wasn’t fantastic for the Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who had a disappointing Olympics.

After finishing 63rd in the road race, the Victoria, B.C. rider wound up 28th in the time trial. He was never a medal contender here.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

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